Cyber Security Insights For Executives

Business leaders and theit exective teams may see cyber security as the IT departments problem and a priority only when an intrusion occurs, but the cyber threat never stands still. It’s always evolving and criminal groups capitalise on new technologies to identify targets and launch attacks on an industrial scale. If your business has not experienced a cyber attack in the past year, you are in a shrinking minority. 
 
According to a survey carried out by  the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) 58% of senior cyber security and business managers say that their organisation’s executive level  commitment to cyber security is “very good,” the remaining 42% say that their organisation’s executives’ dedication and buy-in to cyber security is “satisfactory, honest, or poor.” 
 
Cyber Security Topics Executives  Think Are Important  
 
Data privacy -   Data privacy topped the list at 35%, and this makes sense given regulations like GDPR and CCPA. In the past, data privacy was handled by legal teams, but with the onset and growth of regulations, CISOs have been asked to operationalise data privacy.  In other words, security teams are responsible for things like data discovery, the introduction of new data security controls, and coordination around technologies for data deletion.  GDPR also comes with the potential for hefty fines, so executives are paying close attention.  
 
Cyber attacks -  Can affect the interests of all stakeholders, disrupting a company’s operations, affecting how its employees work and inflicting brand damage that can severely jeopardise customer loyalty and trust. A breach can also impact sensitive information related to clients, contractors and suppliers. And as tighter regulations are put in place, companies may be exposed to legal liability, making cyber security a key corporate governance concern for investors.  
 
The threat of cyber attacks is so severe that the World Economic Forum in 2018 declared cyber security the top business risk in Europe, North America, and East Asia and the Pacific. 
 
Continuous cyber security training is lacking  - When asked if their current employer provides the cyber security team with the right level of training to keep up with business and IT risk, more than half (56%) of survey respondents answered “no,” suggesting that their organisations needed to provide more or significantly more training for the cyber security staff.
 
Internal relationships need work -  While many organisations consider the relationship between cyber security, business, and IT teams to be good, it seems that 20% of cyber security professionals say the relationship between cyber security and IT is fair or poor (surprising given that 78% of cyber security professionals got their start in IT) and 27% of survey respondents claim the relationship between cyber security and the business is fair or poor.  The biggest cyber security/IT relationship issue selected relates to prioritizing tasks between the two groups while the biggest cyber security/business relationship challenge is aligning goals.
 
Many businesses still believe they are below the criminals’ radar, however, the growth in cyber crime enabled by automatic vulnerability identification mean that every business is a target. 
 
It’s not the nature of a business that attracts the interest of cyber crime groups. It’s weak defences and the opportunity these present to mount a successful attack.  Your incident response plan should allow you to respond effectively to a range of scenarios, such as an internal breach, external attack, accidental data sharing and loss or theft of a physical device. 
 
Planning For Future Cyber Security Issues:  
  • Do you have an incident response plan in place? 
  • Who will lead the incident response team? 
  • What will happen in the first 24 hours after a breach? 
  • Have you allocated enough resources to ensure an effective response? 
  • What external partners will you use to manage elements such as forensic investigation, public relations, legal affairs and the notification process in the event of a data breach? 
Threats from outside the company are a huge concern for cybersecurity teams, but there are significant threats inside company firewalls. 
 
The very people who are closest to the data or other corporate assets can often be a weak link in a company’s cybersecurity program, particularly when they share passwords or files over unprotected networks, click on malicious hyperlinks sent from unknown email addresses, or otherwise act in ways that open up corporate networks to attack. Indeed, threats from inside the company account for about 43 percent of data breaches. 
 
Cyber security must be the concern of every single employee from the CEO down to the receptionist,  because implementing the best cyber security practice isn’t just about firewalls and encryption, it’s about changing the entire culture of your organisation. 
 
Creating a work environment which is vigilant and proactive is the only way to truly protect your business. Although there is no such thing as perfect protection, as a business leader, you have the responsibility to significantly reduce the risks.
 
ISSA:        Grant Thornton:     McKinsey:        Tech Centry:      Chief Executive:      CSO Online:       Image: Unsplash
 
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